In the age of fake news and click-bait headlines, publishers have struggled with balancing quality content with pageviews, clicks, and other metrics, as online readers gravitate toward short, sensational—and sometimes false—stories.
CNN.com was one of these channels for a while and was caught up in a numbers game. Yet, as news sites became increasingly similar and fickle readers moved elsewhere, CNN realized that its digital property needed to improve in order to take its advertising to new limits.
Earlier this year, CNN invested $20 million in its digital property—and has so far built out a team of 162 new hires, including a number of talented BuzzFeed reporters who were instrumental to important 2016 campaign season coverage.
This move indicates that CNN is not just looking for reporters that can write trust-worthy articles, but also ones who can tell stories in a way that gets internet readers engaged. In addition, CNN.com will be producing a better mobile experience and more video products to help attract and keep more advertisers.
Another big change CNN.com has made is creating very specific “thematic verticals” with high quality content. In doing so, the company is betting that a better organization of content will attract a more targeted audience that will command higher ad rates.
As advertisers continue to invest in content that aligns more closely with their brand—as opposed to stories that are only written for high traffic volumes—they’re happy to pay up to reach the right consumers.
It only gets better from there: CNN understands if its audience segments are strong, they’re more likely to click and share other articles related to the subject they’re interested in, and thus would attract other like-minded readers. From a publication standpoint, this is also a huge win: if your content is arranged smartly, it’s easier to understand what the audience wants and produce premium content for them.
While CNN.com isn’t the only publication reorganizing its website, it understands that if it knows how readers “move around” online, it’s easier to keep readers engaged. Its push for better journalism means it can begin to differentiate itself from a number of other news sources—and an audience who stays longer, clicks on more links, adds to discussion, etc., is worth its weight in gold.